9 Movies That Accurately Depict The Struggles Of Parenthood

Nothing changes our lives more than having a child. The second the baby shows up, our lives are inundated with dirty diapers, family and friends waiting to meet the baby, wails that feel like never ending, and sleepless nights. Then, as the baby grows, we are faced with new challenges such as financial strains, attitude problems, busy schedules and peer pressure. But between those challenges lie magical moments that make it all worthwhile: watching our children grow up, exposing them to new things, and creating happy family memories. From newborns to teenagers to young adults, our children bring us both joy and hardship.

There are many films that capture the struggle of parenthood. They show us that parenthood is a lifelong roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. One minute we’re doting on our kids, and the next minute we’re yelling at them about something that could have easily been avoided. And the next minute we find that our children have suddenly grown up. Here are nine films that capture the struggle of parenthood.

Related: Best Movies Celebrating Family Love

9 Stepmother (1998)

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Directed by Chris Columbus, stepmother is a heartfelt story about Isabel (Julia Roberts), a divorced father’s new girlfriend, and Jackie (Susan Sarandon), who feels threatened by her ex-husband’s new partner. Although Isabel never wanted to be a mother, she works hard to develop relationships with her boyfriend’s children, which makes it difficult for Jackie. It is later revealed that Jackie is suffering from terminal cancer. She’s devastated that she won’t see her children grow up, but Isabel will. The two women finally come to terms with their situation: Jackie is the past, while Isabel’s role as stepmother makes her the future.

It’s a messy tale that shows how divorce and personal struggles complicate parenthood and how difficult it can be to transition into an established family.

8th Slay (2007)

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knocked open is a comedy that could only have come from the mind of Judd Apatow and is considered one of his finest films. Here, an ambitious TV personality named Alison (Katherine Heigl) is impregnated by a total loser named Ben (Seth Rogen) after a random one-night stand. The two face challenges as they deal with their unexpected pregnancy and intolerance issues. Their relationship contrasts with that of Debbie (Leslie Mann), Alison’s older sister, and her husband Peter (Paul Rudd), a married couple with two children who have their own problems.

Whether you have started a family or are about to start one, knocked open shows that parenting isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. The imminent arrival of the baby brings stress, arguments and scares to Alison and Ben’s lives. And uncomfortable sex too.

Also see: Knocked Up Cast: Where They Are Today

7 Finding Nemo (2003)

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Find Nemo is quintessential Pixar and one of the studio’s best films. It combines beautiful computer animation with a heartfelt story that requires a box of tissues. At the very beginning we meet a pair of clownfish, marlin and coral, who can’t wait to become parents once their eggs hatch. This joy quickly turns to alarm when a predator threatens their babies. Armed with her maternal instincts, Coral does what she can to protect her children.

This tragedy leaves single father Marlin in years of paranoia when it comes to their only surviving child, Nemo. The poor guy is constantly worried and overprotective. But when Nemo suddenly disappears, Marlin is ready to venture to the ends of the ocean to find him. For an animated film Find Nemo does a great job of capturing the highs and lows of parenthood. There’s a lot of anxiety and sacrifice that comes with being a parent. But at the end of the day, good parents will do anything for their child.

6 Father of the Bride (1991)

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father of the bride offers a very different take on parenting than the other films on this list. Here, George Banks (Steve Martin) faces a harsh reality when his only daughter announces her engagement. He immediately dislikes her fiancee and starts all sorts of trouble. During this classic comedy, George sees his daughter as the little girl she used to be.

For many parents, weddings are a bittersweet chapter in their child’s life story. It means saying goodbye to the child you raised while saluting the adult they have become. George Banks has a hard time letting go of his daughter. But in the end, it’s something all parents have to deal with.

5 The Kids Are Fine (2010)

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The children are alright notable for being one of the first mainstream films to portray a same-sex couple. Partners Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) have both given birth to a child with the same sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Things get complicated when the kids track down their birth father and bring him into their lives. Jules and Paul begin an affair that threatens to break up the family.

The children are alright reminds parents not to lose sight of the relationship that originally formed them with parents. It is important to be present with your children but to be present with your partner. But most importantly, this film shows us that the parental struggle is the same for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or race.

See also: The Best LGBTQ+ Movies of the 2010s

4 Riding in the Car with Boys (2001)

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Based on the book of the same name Ride in the car with guys tells the true story of Bev Donofrio (Drew Barrymore). Young Bev has big dreams: to graduate from New York University and become a writer. However, her plans change when she is struck by an unplanned pregnancy and becomes a teenage mom. Ride in the car with guys covers the first 18 years of her child’s life and captures Bev’s many struggles, beginning with her disappointment at having a boy born instead of a girl.

Bev goes from teenage mom to adult, juggling career, motherhood, divorce and a disgruntled child. At one point she wonders if she even loves her son because she had to give up her dreams to raise him. But Bev comes to realize that her son is the best thing that could ever have happened to her, a feeling even the most discouraged parents feel deeply. Bev’s dream of becoming a writer is (apparently) coming true. But it took her years of sacrifice and hardship before she could get there.

3 Juno (2007)

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Juno is a great coming of age film that captures many different sides of parenthood. They have the main character Juno (Elliot Page) dealing with her unexpected pregnancy. She faces the judgment of society and the physical toll of childbirth. Then there’s her father (JK Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney) who are also dealing with their teenage daughter’s pregnancy. Despite Juno’s flaws, both parents are supportive and loving.

There’s a great scene where Juno’s stepmother fiercely defends her daughter from her snooty ultrasound technician, even though she’s not Juno’s birth mother. And then there’s the wealthy young couple Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) who want to adopt Juno’s baby. Mark turns out to be an asshole who isn’t ready to be a father, while Vanessa is dying to be a mother. Juno juggles all of these characters and shows that parenting can come in many different shapes and forms – and not all of them are picture perfect.

2 Home Alone (1990)

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Home alone may seem like a strange choice here. But when you think about it, the dysfunctional McCallister family actually fits. A lot of parents can probably identify with Kate (Catherine O’Hara) and Peter (John Heard) McCallister in some way: you fight with your kids and say things you don’t mean, juggle different personalities and tasks, try they handle all the chaos in your household. And then there’s that heartbreaking feeling of just knowing that something isn’t right.

When she realizes her son has been left home alone, Kate is willing to do anything to get her child back, which includes hours of polka music. Home alone shows the love and chaos that comes with raising a large family. It’s a busy lifestyle, and sometimes parents can forget things – although hopefully it’s not your child.

1 Parenthood (1989)

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Imagine entertainment

What better way to capture parenthood than a movie that is actually called parenting? It focuses on the vast Buckman family and weaves together their diverse stories, situations and hardships. parenting has it all: financial pressures, unplanned and difficult pregnancies, child problems, puberty, incompetence, divorce and absent parents. But nothing sums up the ups and downs of parenting better than this quote from Gil Buckman’s (Steve Martin) grandmother: “You know, when I was young, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up and down, up, down. Oh what a ride. I always wanted to go back. It was just interesting to me that a ride could make me so anxious, so anxious, so sick, so excited and so excited.”

Related: Best Movies About Parenting, Ranked

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